How to Honor Recurring Donors on Their Birthdays
May is my birthday month, so I’ve been tracking what's coming into my mailbox and email inbox from friends, family, businesses and nonprofits.
Birthdays are very powerful opportunities to recognize your recurring donors, yet not that many nonprofits do this. In my mind, birthdays and anniversaries are dates that should be part of your monthly donor stewardship plan.
Take a lesson from businesses. I’m getting birthday messages from my favorite bakery, from my favorite coffee shop, my chiropractor, my dentist and others.
Of course, it’s critical that you know the donor’s birthday. The anniversary date you already have in your donor database.
There are overlays and demographic updates available, but sometimes they only provide the birthday month. That’s OK. You can work around that and send something at the beginning of the month.
All it takes is a simple request for birthday information. Christmas Tree Shops asked me one question. It took me all of 10 seconds to complete the survey — directly from an email request.
Granted, as a nonprofit, you may not have much in terms of a birthday reward. But for most donors, getting something special on their birthday or their anniversary is impressive enough. Just the fact that you took the time to think about them, they’ll remember for sure.
Sending something via email is great. Sending something by mail is even better. Think of ways that you can make the donor feel extra special:
- A happy birthday video.
- A happy anniversary video.
- A personal-looking and -feeling email.
- A post card.
- A special card.
But, the key thing with this piece of your recurring donor stewardship: There should not be a request for money. This is also not the time to include a request to leave you in their will (no matter how tempting this might be).
Religious organizations tend to ask the donor to return any special prayer intentions.
I give to about 50 nonprofits on a recurring basis. I’ve seen just a few anniversary cards, especially from small organizations. And I’ve seen just a few birthday cards and birthday emails. So plenty of room to add yours. So, review what you know about your recurring donors.
The next time you send a survey, ask your donors for their birthdays. They may tell you, they may not, and that’s OK. But for the birthdays you do have — or receive upon request — create a special recognition opportunity that’s truly all about the donor.
This is the one day that’s not tied to a giving day or a special holiday. It’s all about your donor. What a great opportunity to say “thank you” for their ongoing recurring support.
The preceding press release was provided by a company unaffiliated with NonPRofit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of the staff of NonProfit PRO.
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals. She authored "Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant" and "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving — in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and a cat, Mientje.